Clutter is the arch nemesis of many homeowners – 56% of adults in the UK have rooms in their houses that they can’t use because of clutter! However, a cluttered home is something that you should sort out as soon as possible. Clutter is known to affect our anxiety levels, circadian rhythm and productivity, making it harder for us to focus and easier to fall back on avoidance strategies. But, if you’re looking for extreme decluttering strategies, you’ve come to the right place! We have the ultimate decluttering your home checklist that you can print off and keep to ensure your home becomes a clutter-free zone. And, if that wasn’t enough, we also have some advice for how to start decluttering when you’ve overwhelmed and 9 proven decluttering tips, so your extreme decluttering goes off without a hitch.
Table of Contents
1. What Is Decluttering?
2. Benefits of Decluttering
3. How To Start Decluttering When You’re Overwhelmed
4. 5 Decluttering Tips To Get You Started
5. What Not To Do When Decluttering Your Home
6. Decluttering Your Home: Room By Room
7. Decluttering Your Home Checklist
What Is Decluttering?
Decluttering is the act of cleaning out any items that make your space look messy or disordered. To successfully declutter your home, you need to assess all the items in your home, decide which are actually clutter and which you can find a home for, and then actioning those decisions immediately. The idea of decluttering is to help you make a permanent change in your home to keep it clean and uncluttered through a new successful cleaning system.
However, decluttering is also about how you feel in your space. For example, you don’t want to completely clear out your bedroom and force yourself to get rid of some of your favourite belongings. The definition of clutter will change from person to person. So, when decluttering your space, remember to keep utility in mind; as long as the things you use often have a home, your decluttering process should be easy.
Mental Health Benefits of Decluttering
Decluttering has numerous benefits on us, particularly our mental health. And, if your follow feng shui or similar practices, decluttering is essential for a boost in spirituality. Here are just some of the benefits you can expect to experience when you start to declutter your home:
• Reduction In Stress & Anxiety – Clutter can wreak havoc on the mind, causing you to feel overwhelmed. As a result of this, clutter may often make you feel irritable, stressed and even embarrassed. Plus, of course, plenty of stress begins to arise when you can’t easily find something you urgently need!
• Improved Sleep – When you’re settling down to sleep, your mind is still at work. And it doesn’t simply forget about all the clutter you’re settling down in. Seeing seemingly little things before you settle down to sleep, like make-up scattered on your dressing table or clothes tossed on the floor around your bedroom, will continue to be mentally processed in your brain. In turn, this makes it difficult for you relax and settle your mind for a good night’s sleep.
• Boost In Productivity – Clutter can greatly affect concentration – it’s common to find it difficult to work at a messy desk, for example. Too many items surrounding you can negatively impact your focus and productivity, as there are too many other things competing for your attention. A cleared space will allow you to focus on what you’re doing without distractions.
• Reduce The Risk of Health Problems – Clutter can make it harder to clean properly and thoroughly. A lack of sufficient cleaning can lead to problems in the home such as pests, dust, mould and mildew. The latter three substances can trigger health problems like asthma and allergies. However, reducing clutter and regularly cleaning your home can keep these issues at bay.
• Release Energy Blockages – As far as spirituality goes, decluttering can help to release anything that is blocking the energy of yourself and your home. Due to this, after decluttering, you can expect to feel free of old stuck ideas and attitudes and ready to take on life better.
How To Start Decluttering When You’re Overwhelmed
Getting started is often the hardest step in any activity. And, when it comes to decluttering, this rings truer than ever. Unfortunately, facing a large pile of your belongings can be overwhelming, and, in the face of this pressure, it’s easy to procrastinate starting decluttering. However, once you start, you’ll feel so much better!
Decluttering doesn’t have to be a staggering project you’d prefer to avoid. Here’s how to start decluttering when you’re overwhelmed in three steps:
5 Decluttering Tips To Get You Started
Although starting decluttering is no doubt the hardest step, figuring out which items you really need to keep can be just as bad. Many of us are prone to hoarding tendencies and, in the face of some our pre-loved belongings, it can be easy to toss them into the ‘Keep’ box with little thought into the future. However, decluttering is all about ridding yourself of items that you don’t use anymore, the belongings that take up space without any need. So, it’s important to be a bit ruthless to avoid the need of another mass decluttering in the future. Here are a few decluttering tips to help you get started clearing your home successfully.
As we discussed above, beginning your decluttering journey can be overwhelming. So, start small! Take just 5 minutes a day to focus on decluttering a single space in your home. Once that space is done and everything is in a delegated storage space, move on to another cluttered spot. As you get used to your 5 minute daily decluttering sessions, you can slowly start to up the ante to perhaps an hour a day until your home is completely free of clutter. After all, starting with something small is better than not starting at all!
Try The 20/20 Rule For Decluttering
There are several rules and systems that many people swear by when decluttering. However, one of the most popular ones is the 20/20 rule. Essentially, all this means is that when you are going through items, consider whether you can replace them for less than 20 pounds and in less than 20 minutes for every item. If the answer to both of these is yes, then you can dispose of it with the knowledge that it is easy to replace. If the answer to only one of these questions is yes, then take some time to really consider if you need the item for a ‘just in case’ scenario.
The 20/20 rule is perfect for decluttering as it forces you to question the use and replaceability of each item that you go through. By determining how easy something is to replace, it helps you clear potentially unnecessary items and find out for sure which ones you’ll need.
Give Away One Item Every Day
One of the best decluttering tips for hoarders is to give away just one item a day. This may not sound like much, but after a year of giving away just one thing a day, you can be free of 365 items. And, if you’re feeling brave, you can increase the number of items you get rid of a day to free yourself of even more clutter. For example, two items a day will mean you’ve rid yourself of 730 items in a year. See how well this stacks up?! So, take the time every day to free yourself of at least one item to start your decluttering journey.
Ask For Advice
When you live in a certain environment, it’s easy to get used to that environment. So, things that you take for granted or don’t notice are easy to gloss over as you are used to them. But this doesn’t help when you’re trying to declutter! So, bring in a fresh set of eyes and ask your friends or family to go through your space. Encourage them to suggest the items that you should recycle or dispose of. If you can provide a solid reason as to why you should keep certain items and your friend agrees, then they can stay. However, if you disagree, that item goes.
Take Before and After Decluttering Photos
Nothing is more satisfying than seeing the blossoming fruits of your labour. And knowing that all the hard work you’ve put into your decluttering is paying off will be motivation to carry on. So, try taking before and after photos as you declutter parts of your space. By seeing how the rest of your home could look, it will make it easier for you to start working on decluttering all your space.
What Not To Do When Decluttering Your Home
Although how you declutter your home is entirely up to you, there are a couple of things you should avoid.
Don’t Buy Before You Organise
We know – seeing some classy storage solution or beautiful home organiser is often far too tempting. But resist! Buying an abundance of storage boxes and baskets before you’ve even started sorting out your home will cause more harm than good. You may find that, once you’ve decluttered all your stuff, that you don’t even have enough room or the proper use for all the storage accessories that you’ve invested in. So, refrain from buying any storage containers until you’ve finished decluttering and can assess how much storage you’ll need.
Don’t Declutter All In One
We’ve been over how to start decluttering when you’re overwhelmed, and do you know what isn’t the solution to this problem? Deciding to do all your decluttering all at once. Setting aside a full day to declutter and organise your entire house is impractical and impossible. You’ll run out of energy and focus throughout the day, leading to a lack of efficiency and plenty of frustration. It’s better to focus a few hours on one space over a few days or weeks. This way, you’ll have the motivation to do more, rather than run into burn out.
Don’t Leave Tasks Unfinished
One of the biggest parts of decluttering is sorting your things out into categories. For example, take the three box system we discussed earlier – your categories would be ‘keep’, ‘dispose of’ and ‘put in storage’. However, once you’ve decided where your things should go, make sure to take them there straight away. Like, for example, don’t keep bags of things destined for the charity shop in your home to sort out another day. Do it now. Make sure that you see each task through to the end, so you don’t have bags hanging around and aren’t tempted to keep hold of anything.
Don’t Neglect The Upkeep Of Your New System
Unfortunately, once your decluttering missions is complete, your work isn’t over. After you’ve decluttered and cleaned up your space, you’ll want it to remain tidy, neat and organised. So, you’ll have to maintain your new sorting system. Whenever you buy anything new, ensure you have a safe place in which to keep it. And, when you take anything out, make sure that you put it straight back again. Keep on top of your new, efficient sorting system, and you’ll be able to bid clutter goodbye for good.
How To Declutter Your Home: Room By Room
It’s easy to read through pages of tips and advice, but figuring out where to start when decluttering your home is another story. As we discussed earlier, it’s best to declutter your home in stages. For example, you could aim to do one room a week by setting aside an hour a day. However, it’s always best to work through your decluttering room by room. So, for example, if you start decluttering your bathroom, you’ll clear that room completely before moving onto another. This way, you can stay on top of where you are with your decluttering jobs and can be thorough with your cleaning out. Here’s some decluttering tips for each room of your home to make these chores that bit easier:
The living room is often one of the most used rooms in the home, meaning it may need the most decluttering! Additionally, you may need to bring in extra storage facilities, such as bookcases and display cabinets. When decluttering your living room, you should focus on:
• Clearing out any bookcases and magazine racks
• Reducing paper clutter, like post
• Removing electronics that you don’t regularly use
• Folding throw blankets (and ridding yourself of unused ones)
• Giving commonly used items a permanent home, such as remote controls, books and magazines
It’s easy to overlook linen closets, but they can gather quite a lot of clutter over time. Start decluttering them out with these starting chores:
• Get rid of old towels and sheets
• Clear out cleaning supplies
• Sort through candles
• Get rid of old cleaning rags
• Sort out bedding sets and duvets
With more of us working from home than ever before, the necessity for a clean, decluttered home office has grown. And it’s essential since clutter can affect productivity and efficiency. So, make a more fruitful home office by starting to declutter with these jobs:
• Clean out filing cabinets
• Clear your computer old files and unused folders
• Get rid of old stationary
• Wipe old USB drives
• Clean up paper clutter
The bathroom is another hot spot for clutter, from expired medicines to mounds of shampoo bottles. But giving everything a rightful place in bathroom racks or storage shelves will help you keep it clear. Here are some things you should focus on in the bathroom:
• Clear out your medicine cabinet
• Go through makeup products and brushes
• Get rid of expired products, like suncream
• Clear out travel sample products
• Find a designated storage area for products like shampoos, shower gels, skin care etc.
The nursery is no doubt a creative place for your child to explore the world. However, that doesn’t mean it has to be messy and cluttered. There are a few things you can do easily to declutter a nursery, and here’s some of them:
• Sort through old and broken toys
• Get rid of dried out felt tips and other pends
• Go through old or ill-fitting clothes
• Fold or dispose of blankets
• Clear out broken games and puzzles
A garage often holds a lot more than just your car. Although the extra storage space is certainly a blessing, how you use it can alter this status. Purge your garage with these decluttering tasks:
• Get rid of old tools
• Go through old paint tins and brushes
• Sort out seasonal decorations
• Clear out unused equipment
• Sort through garden products and equipment
You may be tempted to overlook the attic, especially if you rarely venture up there. But that’s just why you should take your decluttering up there! Attics are prime hiding spots for clutter and unused belongings, so get stuck into your attic with these jobs:
• Get rid of old cardboard boxes
• Sort through old electronics stored in there
• Get rid of old suitcases
• Clear out broken items
• Dispose of packaging materials e.g. bubble wrap
Decluttering Your Home Checklist
Now you have all the tools and knowledge to go about decluttering your home, it’s time to get started! However, we’ve established how overwhelming simply getting started can be. So, we’ve put together the ultimate decluttering your home checklist to help make this task more doable. With our room-by-room checklist, you can make sure that you declutter all the right things at your own pace – and that you don’t end up going back on yourself! Print this checklist out and keep it with you as you go about your decluttering time to ensure that you complete your jobs efficiently and easily
What Is The 80/20 Rule For Decluttering?
We’ve discussed the 20/20 rule for decluttering, but there are plenty more! Another popular way of decluttering is through the 80/20 rule. Also known as the pareto principle, the 80/20 rule asks you to focus on what you use and how much you use it. On the whole, people allegedly use 20% of their belongings 80% of the time. The rest remains unused. So, with this in mind, focus on the things you use the most and the ones you never even touch. Then, start to get rid of the latter pieces, the 80% of stuff that you rarely use, if at all.
What Is The Fastest Way To Declutter Paperwork?
We mentioned decluttering paper and unused paperwork a few times in this piece. But decluttering paperwork can be one of the hardest jobs. The best method for decluttering paperwork is a reworking of the three box method, only this time you sort your papers into three piles: Keep, Recycle, Shred. Naturally, you put papers you still need in the Keep pile, papers that can go straight into the bin in Recycle and pieces with personal information or private documents in the Shred pile. Then, you can deal with them accordingly and put papers you wish to keep in a clear storage solution.
What Happens To Your Brain When You Declutter Your Home?
Decluttering can have astronomical effects on the brain. Some of the knock-on affects you can expect to experience during and after decluttering include:
• Fluctuating emotions – Purging your home of old and unused items can often bring back old memories that your mind has to process as you work. Naturally, this can lead to past sadness, anger and other emotions to rise
• Increased motivation during decluttering – Your brain won’t have to sift through so much visual stimuli once you have finished decluttering, so you can expect higher motivation to finish.
• A craving for more – Once your brain has experienced the system creation you have implemented, the competence will encourage the mind to want more.
• A sense of empowerment – Seeing the fruits of your labour after decluttering shows you and your mind that the anticipation of a task is usually worse than the reality. This realisation helps the mind to realise that approaching similar tasks in the future will likely incur the same outcome.
• Forgetting where stored items are at first! – It can take time for your mind to get used to the fresh environment, so it’s natural to forget where things are at first.
Does Decluttering Get Easier?
Decluttering is like most new tasks: it may seem difficult at first, but it gets easier with time. Once you’ve eased yourself into it, decluttering should become almost second nature. However, here are a few things you should resist doing while decluttering to make it easier in the long run:
• Don’t keep items ‘just in case’ you might use them at some point in the future
• Don’t feel guilty for ‘wasting’ money by getting rid of things
• Don’t hold onto things that you used to love but no longer use
• Don’t believe that a decluttered home will be boring or uninteresting
• Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you just need to organise rather than declutter